In Crescent City, the dead are always close.
At the point of death, people can choose to become Ghosts, tethered to the living. They can remain with their loved ones as invisible companionsor in the case of Crescent City's ghostly mayor, remain in office forever.
Being a P.I. in Crescent City isn't easy or glamorous. Luckily Lola Starke has an edge: her Ghost, Aubrey, who can gather valuable clues from other Ghosts in the Ether. When they accept a simple missing-persons case, they're drawn into a complicated web of lies and double-crosses that involves the most powerful people in the Cityincluding Lola's own mother, Grace McCall, a famous film star and the mayor's former lover.
As Lola races to untangle the deceit ensnaring her, she discovers an old enemy at its center carefully orchestrating the perfect moment to betray Lola and destroy Aubrey forever unless Lola and Aubrey can stop them first.
|File size:||699 KB|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Lola glanced at the clock on her desk, calculating whether she could stop in at home before driving to the Aunties' place. She thought about it a minute too long.
The office buzzer sounded. Lola picked herself up from her chair and walked out to the waiting area.
The man just crossing the threshold was tall, thin, dressed in light grey wool. He held a grey trilby in his slender fingers. His light green eyes contrasted enticingly with his coffee-colored skin. He shook Lola's hand firmly and introduced himself:
She raised an eyebrow.
"My mother believed in portents." His smile was confident and easy.
Lola motioned for him to enter her office and take a seat. He unbuttoned his suit jacket to do so, reaching inside to pull out a slim silver case. He offered a dark cigarette.
"We have the same taste for exotics. Mr. Arbogast." Lola fetched her own Egyptian cigarette from the inlaid box atop her desk and let him light her up.
"A good omen?" he asked with another smile. They were soon nestled in a vivid blue haze.
"What can I do for you, Mr. Arbogast?"
"I was given your name by Mrs. Bing. She said you were discreet and efficient." Lola nodded. He sat forward intently. "My best friend is missing. Joseph Josephson. Everyone calls him Sunny Joe." Arbogast reached a slender hand into a breast pocket and extracted a photograph.
Lola added to the smoky air as she leaned forward to accept it. She studied the smiling face, the light hair, the gaunt cheeks. She noted the snappy line of his collar. "Is there a particular reason you're not telling the police your story?"
Arbogast didn't hide his displeasure. "They're not interested in a former felon. They don't care where he is. They'd just as soon wait for him to show up, dead or otherwise. That's how they'd help me." He blew out an angry plume of smoke.
"What sort of crime are we talking here?"
"Petty theft. He was a heroin addict. But that was years ago. He's been straight three years." He seemed pretty proud of himself. "Look, Miss Starke, I know Sunny's no angel, but he's not back on the needle. I know it. He's my best friend." Arbogast's conviction willed his statement to be truth.
"Mr. Arbogast, I'm not in the business of giving false hope. I'm going to ask you some questions and then I'll tell you if I'll help."
It seemed straightforward. The two men were roommates, in a house down by the old Southern citrus groves. Josephson had been missing four days now. Arbogast had done a little telephone sleuthing, but had come up empty. No one had seen Sunny Joe recently. At the very least, no one was telling.
Lola nodded gravely here and there, then and now, as Arbogast told his tale. Her expression gave away no judgments. That wasn't the case with her constant companion.
"That's it?" Aubrey's tone was outraged.
Lola gave no outward sign of change. She wasn't in the habit of conversing with her Ghost in front of strangers. It wasn't polite, as only she could hear him, of course. As a rule, Lola tried her damnedest to pretend Aubrey didn't haunt her every waking moment.
So, instead of saying something rude to Aubrey, she repeated her question to Arbogast: "And you tried his employer? He hasn't been sent out on the road?"